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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Don't Diss a Decade!

-->By Erin Knightley

Whenever ‘outsiders’ ask about what period my historical romances are set in, they are always fascinated to learn that the Regency was such a short period of time. “Only 1811 to 1820? What makes such a short span of time so special?”
And I have to admit, I am tempted to respond:
What makes a ten year span of time so special? Look at it this way. I am a child of the eighties. I lived in the last great era before cell phones came on the scene, or even call waiting. I knew my parents wanted me home because the sun touched the horizon—not because I got a text.
My days were filled with CareBears, My Little Pony, and She-Ra. I traded Garbage Pail Kid cards and friendship bracelets, listened to New Kids on the Block and wore enough neon to light a skating rink. And I did—light a skating rink, that is. I rocked the side ponytail and teased my bangs to stand straight up on end.
I can, to this day, recite every word of Ice, Ice, Baby, and can pull a Hammer Time like nobody’s business. I thought my brother was the coolest person ever for wearing parachute pants—not that I would have EVER told him as much. 


I cried at ET, stared in wide-eyed wonder at The Goonies (STILL want to go down that water slide into the cavern that held the pirate ship!), and nodded sagely at the wisdom of wax on, wax off. I lived for the trips to my grandparents, where their magical cable box tuned into the glory of MTV, and the Dukes of Hazard came through with crystal clear clarity. 
I can clearly recall the moment my father brought home the Atari, then later the VCR, and greatest of all, the Nintendo. To this day, I will go into 10 year old game addict mode when I hear the Super Mario Brothers theme song.  Back then, if you had a monstrous big screen TV—and the living room space to dedicate to it—you had made it in life.
Neon, scrunchie, & a hoola hoop? I am awesome!

As a child of the eighties, I still wonder who shot JR (I was way too young to watch the show, and no one ever told me!), where’s the beef, and where the heck Waldo got off to. I do, however, know exactly what Willis was talking about, and how to walk like an Egyptian (on roller skates – how rad is that?)
So, as far as I’m concerned, it’s easy to see how a decade can be a Big Deal. A lot can happen in that short amount of time—just look at the thousands of books that have been set in that golden moment in history. When manners were king, the prince regent had a taste for decadence, and the waltz was nearly as scandalous as it was titillating.  The tensions with France gave rise to the possibility of sexy spies and deadly intrigue, and provided endless possibilities for tortured war heroes returning home. It was Britain in its heyday, with opulence like we can hardly imagine—glittering balls, gorgeous gowns, sporty conveyances, and just enough darkened alcoves to get into a bit trouble.
So what do you think—can a decade make all the difference?  Which decade do you consider ‘home’ – either in real life, or in your reading preference?

And on a side note, if you are a fan of the magical time that was the Regency, I hope you'll check out my Christmas novella, Miss Mistletoe, which goes on sale on election day! If you ask me, there will be no better day to escape into a fun, happy read ;)  

Finn, Viscount Edgerton, has avoided the London scene to focus solely on digging out from under the pile of debt his father left behind. A decent dowry could make things a hell of a lot easier for the estate, but he hasn’t met the right woman. And he never would have expected her to come in the form of “Miss Mistletoe”—the young woman who stole a kiss at a ball in front of the ton and caused a scandal.

On the eve of her cousin’s wedding, Cece McCrea hardly expects to run into the man who inspired her indiscretion five years ago. This time, she resolves to put aside her childish crush and avoid him altogether. Her will is tested, however, when he pursues her….

28 comments:

  1. Erin,
    How right you are. So much can happen in a decade. I was a teen in the 80s and I knew who shot JR, but I've forgotten. LOL

    In American history, I think the 40s with the war and women entering the work force had a huge impact on the country. I love talking with WWII vets and see how they interact with their spouses. Not every marriage is the same, obviously, but a large majority of the people I talk to seem to see their marriage as a partnership. Maybe adversity can do that.

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    1. Oh yes - the 40s were an incredible turning point in the world. And, I feel compelled to point out, the last era of truly 'sharp' dressing - LOVE the pics from that time!

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  2. Erin ~ I was born in the 70s, but grew up in the 80s. And I can't believe no one ever told you who shot JR. And I can't believe Samantha has forgotten. So let me be the first to tell you (and remind her). It was JR's wife's sister Kristen, with whom he was having an affair. :)

    The 80s will always be my "home", and your post reminded me of all the reasons why. I would love to see you do Hammer Time, btw. But I too feel most comfortable in the Regency, which is why all of my books are set in that time period as well.

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    1. Eh...I knew who shot JR, but I forgot. LOL. My sister and I would always sneak out of bed and come out to watch Dallas over the back of the sofa, until Mom caught us and sent us back to bed. :)

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    2. Huh - the dog probably had it coming, lol!

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  3. I was a teen in the 80s too--did you know Jem is making a comeback? They had Jem costumes for Halloween this year! I'm with you, I'll always sing along to Duran Duran, Prince, Sheila E, plus, all the early rappers...Remember, back then Mel Gibson was young and hot and not crazy?

    But, like you guys, I adore so many things about the Regency. It will always be my second home.

    Your novella sounds adorable! Can't wait to read it!

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    1. So was Tom Cruise! LOL. And Charlie Sheen.

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    2. Man, I totally forgot those guys were once heart throbs! Yeah...

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  4. He he he...I can still sing along with every word to every New Kids song from the 80s. Just sayin'.

    I love looking back in history and seeing the power of a decade, but I think a lot of people have difficulty in seeing just how much change could have taken place when it is so far in history. But if you look at the 20th Century in America, it is easy to see. You had the Roaring 20's, with flappers and excess galore (much like in the British Regency). Then there was the Stock Market Crash, which brought the Great Depression throughout the 30s, in such stark contrast to the 20s. The 40s brought a renewed sense of patriotism and purpose while we got involved in WWII. The 50s brought changes in the musical landscape that paved the way for the social reform of the 60s. The 70s...well...we can skip the 70s, right, and just head straight into the 80s which you've described so well. I mean, this was a century full of memorable, definable decades--so why should it be so hard to believe the Regency was just as memorable and definable?

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    1. Catherine ~ Don't skip the 70s. In a lot of ways - and perhaps it's because my early childhood was in that decade, but - it feels like the last quaint decade to me. There's something to be said for quaint. Quaint is underrated. Sometimes you need a chance to catch your breath, and I think the 70s did that. :)

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    2. Okay, fine, we can talk about the 70s and the avocado green shag carpet, and the mustard yellow paint on EVERY WALL of our house.

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    3. And orange and brown shag carpeting! And long, polyester dresses!

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    4. Yep, no skipping the 70s (despite the fact that it clearly needed a different interior decorator).

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    5. I swear I don't know how an entire population of people suddenly went color blind and style deaf, lol. I was born in 79, but I in no way claim that decade!

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    6. Maybe the LSD from the 60s impaired their eyesight. It's not just the orange. Puke green was very popular as well. *shudders*

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    7. Shapeless polyester dresses, Deb. Shapeless! Everything suddenly lost its shape and grew paisley or stripes in those same ugly avocado/mustard/brown/orange colors.

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  5. I was a teen in the 80s too and so many can have in decade and the greatest impact is the change in the economy, the currency is getting smaller than goods is getting higher prices :(

    and from book i think is the difference in behavior

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    1. It's totally a different world than it was back then, isn't it? Maybe that's why Full House and Family Matters are my secret indulgence on TV these days!

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  6. omg, I've wondered about the JR thing too. We used to play outside all the time. Used our imaginations to keep us entertained. Fought over who got to play with Malibu Barbie. I died fifty deaths of jealousy when my sister got a Cabbage Patch kid and I didn't. My brother had a Teddy Ruxpin. We ate family dinners every night. We had rabbit ears on the TV. We were wary when Fox was the "new" network channel LOL But dang if I don't still love the Goonies and can kick major tail with the youngsters on Mario Bros :-)

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    1. Ahhh - Cabbage Patch Kids :) I collected those dolls for a few years, and I think there is still a box of them somewhere. I can still remember how they smelled!

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    2. Sandra, I feel your pain! My baby sister got a Cabbage Patch kid from Santa and I didn't!! It's the only time I was ever jealous over something she got.

      I was 13, I think when 90210 came on Fox the first time. WOW, those kids were so foreign and cool to me.

      Erin, thanks for all the great reminders of the 1980s. I'm a bicentennial baby if anyone wants to know my birth year. :)

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    3. My parents couldn't afford Cabbage Patch Kids the year they first came out...so my mom MADE dolls that are like Cabbage Patch Kids for me and my sister.

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  7. I am going to date myself - my home decade would be the 70s but olive green and shag carpeting do not hold a warm place in my heart. I can't really remember much about the decade I was actually born in (too young to have any memories I suppose) so the 70s is my home. The things I remember from the 70s are Vietnam, Watergate, a president resigning, and the decade ended with hostages in Iran. We still had hippies, peace and love at the beginning (because they were still stoned from being at Woodstock in 1969 ;)). It is the decade where I grew up, had my first kiss, and discovered romance novels. We had Disco, Donna Summer and Saturday Night Fever, and it also brought Aerosmith, Journey, Styx, Barry Manilow and Bette Midler, and one of my favorite bands - Queen!
    As for reading/writing decades - that is up in the air. I like anything from the Tudors to the Civil War, though I tend to read mostly Regencies.

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    1. Ah - the flavor of the 70's .... I'm glad someone has fond memories of it! LOL - just teasing you :) As for reading, it's been a while since I picked up a civil war read, but I used to love them.

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  8. Hi Erin!

    I think I'm in the wrong decade or at least was born in the wrong decade to be here today!

    You see I was born in the 1947! (Yes, that was way before TV's appeared in homes in fact I was in 3th grade before we got very first black and white TV! I was the first in my family to go off on my own and make my own way in the world. I was still a teenager (18 1/2) and I decided to go to the college of my choice (not my parents) and paying my own way by working days and going to college at night - and that was after moving across the country! We were rebels in the 1960's!

    On the other hand I think my "historical roots" call to me whenever I read a book set in the eras of the past. I think that sometimes in my dreams I can even hear the call of the bagpipes being carried by the wind flowing over the water from the shores of Glasgow to the coast of Connecticut where my ancestors first landed.

    I can remember staying up "late" at night I wouldn't miss seeing first Elvis Presley in 1956 then The Beatles in 1964 when they were on the Ed Sullivan show.

    The most moment that will never be forgotten was on my 16th birthday, Nov. 22, 1947 when the announcement was made over the loud speaker at school at President Kennedy had been shot and the world stood still.

    Because of that besides the historical romances I love to read I always try to know the history of the time period to understand the conflicts, and morays, attitudes and the society of the period and the influence they have on the characters actions.

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    1. Eek! That is NOT a good memory for your 16th birthday! It sounds like you have been witness to some really significant moments. And I have to say - I hate that I missed out on Elvis in my lifetime :( It would have been amazing to see him in his heyday!

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  9. Erin, Oh my goodness, your post brings back the best memories! As a child of the eighties I remember every example and hate that my kids will never know life without video games or cell phones. Ahh, the good ol' days. Great post.

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